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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supporting Preschool Personality Development with Literature

Children’s personalities are multifaceted. Emotions, values, feelings about self, and ways of viewing their place in the world are all parts of what makes each child unique. 

Between the ages of two and three, children discover their independence and want to explore, to do things for themselves, and to be in control of their environment. The use of literature during this time is a fantastic way to help your children develop positive and realistic self-concepts, understand their emotions and how to express them in socially acceptable ways, and develop positive views of character and self-esteem.

Books that encourage children to see themselves realistically will emphasize capabilities that children already have. The books you want to choose, show characters that see themselves positively and realistically. Tidy Titch written by Pat Hutchins is a great choice to share with your preschooler. In this book, the neat Titch inspires his older brother and sister to clean their own rooms but when they start throwing away books and toys, Titch collects the unwanted items and soon his own room is a mess!

An earlier book about Titch, titled Titch by Pat Hutchins, focuses on the relationship between young Titch and his older siblings. It is a wonderful book to use when opening a conversation with your children about the acceptance of physical differences. 

Books that reaffirm self worth are wonderful to share with young children. They can help young kids develop strong self-concepts, support individuality, and offer a feeling of security. Some great books to explore include The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli, Grandfather’s Lovesong by Reeve Lindbergh, and Sloppy Kisses by Elizabeth Winthrop.

Fears can play a big role in the imaginations of preschoolers and parents can use books to help children understand these emotions. Many books focus on a single character that explores a particular type of fear.  Jim Meets the Thing and Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen, A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban, Holes and Peeks by Ann Jonas, and  A Father Like That by Charlotte Zolotow are all great books to engage children with. 

Books offer opportunities for helping children identify with themselves and the changing world around them. Avoid stories that present stereotyped characters when choosing titles for your own children.  Instead, seek out those books that present well-developed characters in a variety of roles and settings. 

Use books to help support your child’s development and most importantly, enjoy everything you read with your child!
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